Hassell will not be swayed

Rueben HaleCountryman

Former CBH board member turned Nationals WA candidate John Hassell says he will have the power to cross the floor for the seat of O’Connor.

The Pingelly farmer was controversially endorsed as the member representing one of WA’s three rural seats, and one of the biggest electoral constituencies in the world against sitting Liberal member and Katanning farmer Rick Wilson.

Mr Hassell had not been a member of the Nationals since falling at odds with the party and resigning his membership during the 2013 Federal election calling Royalties for Regions money a “slush fund” for the party.

Mr Wilson, who is also a member of Pastoralists and Graziers Association, has represented the Division of O’Connor since 2013, after ousting National Party incumbent Tony Crook with a 3.5 per cent swing in his favour.

Mr Hassell said he would have the capability of standing up for the electorate and not to toe the Nationals party line on issues related to his electorate.

“I will be advocating for a fairer GST carve up, a review of the very unproductive backpacker tax and really standing up for small business; particularly those businesses located in rural areas,” he said.

“More broadly I will also be lobbying to change the rules on fringe benefits tax that has unfortunately caught many of our FIFO workers in its net, plus putting more resources into rural education and rural medical services.”

But Mr Wilson said he will be campaigning on his party’s record in supporting the rural community since the Government was elected in 2013.

“Lets have a look at the achievements of the Government and as a member of the standing committee on agriculture, and also as a member of the agricultural backbench committee, we’ve made significant progress in agriculture,” he said.

“We’ve increased farm management deposits from $400,000 to $800,000 and allowed those deposits to be offset against loans at the same bank, negotiated four free-trade agreements, offered tax deductions to farmers who invest in water infrastructure, and to top that off we’ve introduced also a whole range of initiatives we’ve introduced in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.”

Meanwhile, WAFarmers has called on the government to commit to re-establishing the competiveness and profitability of Australian agriculture by addressing a number of key issues in the lead-up to the Federal Election.

Split into five main areas, the WAFarmers election campaign will focus on safeguarding the agricultural supply chain, research and innovation, building a stronger workforce, making agriculture a national priority, and trade.

“Agriculture is the only pillar of the Australian economy which has the potential to double by 2030, so it is critical that the Federal Government not only considers but actions our priority policies, and those of other State farming organisations and the National Farmers Federation,” WAFarmers President Tony York said.

“Our policy priorities, which are supported by the NFF’s policy pillars outlined in their Accelerate Agriculture campaign, highlight key areas of strategic importance for the industry.

“There are so many opportunities in agriculture, big and small, which people within the sector can see — now we need the incoming government to get on board, capitalise on these opportunities and safeguard the future of this ever-evolving sector.”

Mr York said WAFarmers would release further details surrounding each Policy Priority in the coming weeks.

“Each policy priority will be detailed thoroughly to ensure government is completely across the most pressing concerns for the agricultural sector, and we also look forward to discussing these priorities in person with representatives from the major political parties.

“We will also present an election scorecard, which will outline the position of the major political parties with regards to our Policy Priorities and assist the public to make their decision at the polls in July.”

The WAFarmers five key Policy Priorities are:

Safeguarding the agricultural supply chain

Enacting policy to ensure competitiveness, sustainability and profitability.

Investing in innovation, science, research and development

Maintaining the Australian agricultural sector’s position as an international leader by improving productivity and guaranteeing agricultural supply.

Building a stronger workforce

Developing a better understanding of the opportunities in the sector to build a strong workforce and attract the best and brightest.

Prioritising agriculture at the top

Marking agriculture a national economic and policy priority to capture the value of opportunities driven by growing demand for our premium food and fibre.

Further developing the expansion of Australian trade

Capitalising on current and future opportunities to expand the reach and breadth of Australian trade markets.

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